Feb 17, 2022 • 36M

People Think They’re Living in a Free Country

Introducing “Unprecedented,” the newest offering from Booksmart Studios.

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Appears in this episode

Matthew S. Schwartz
Michael Vuolo
Celebrating the accidental guardians of the First Amendment. For regular updates on the legal stories that shape our lives, visit unprecedented.substack.com.
Episode details

So much of what we do here at Booksmart Studios comes down to the power of speech. Lexicon Valley examines the words and phrases we use to convey ideas. Banished explores what happens when speech runs afoul of current orthodoxy. And on Bully Pulpit, Bob Garfield uses his megaphone to expose the hypocrisy and machinations of those who care more about insulating the entrenched power of the few than about safeguarding the fragile welfare of the many.

We’re proud to announce our newest offering, focusing on the very source of our freedom of speech. Unprecedented tells the raw and emotional stories of ordinary people who, as they pursued justice all the way to the Supreme Court, pushed the limits of our First Amendment rights.

In each episode, you’ll meet the accidental guardians of perhaps our most cherished liberty. They are war protesters and religious zealots, Ku Klux Klan members and internet trolls. They are Americans who, regardless of their social or political views — or even an awareness of the stakes — have helped us fill in the Constitutional gaps that our Founding Fathers left open to interpretation.

Through captivating interviews with the plaintiffs of precedent-setting cases — many of whom have never been interviewed before — you will learn about your right to be mean, to threaten others or to simply not say anything at all.

Hosted by Booksmart Studios executive producers Matthew Schwartz and Michael Vuolo, with special appearances by NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Unprecedented originally aired on Washington, DC’s NPR station in 2019.

Unprecedented begins with the story of a man who, nearly a half-century ago, committed a minor act of civil disobedience when he covered up the state motto on his license plate. George Maynard battled New Hampshire over the slogan Live Free or Die, which he found personally and religiously repugnant. His beliefs would land him in jail, cost him his job and carry him all the way to the Supreme Court.